Sunday, October 13, 2013

Patience... lessons in repairing drywall

Hello there! Hope you are all enjoying this rainy Sunday morning (or maybe not). J is still asleep, so I decided to blog a bit before church. This post, which is primarily about repairing the wall in the basement, is also about patience. Because patience is what you need when working on drywall repair. Patience is also something that the previous owners lacked in terms of their version of drywall repair, which involved slapping down some spackle without smoothing anything out.

So, the drywall was in bad shape. Very bad shape.

I first used my drywall knife to make the oddly shaped holes near the sink into rectangles that I could work with a little easier.

I then used the technique my father and I used in the kitchen to add some drywall to the holes. If you don't feel like clicking the link, it basically involves epoxy and a shim to attach the new drywall piece. And if you are wondering why there is a power sander plugged in, it is because I used that prior to spackling to try and sand down the bumps (mostly from the previous owner's spackling). The power sander was actually pretty effective.

Then there was spackle. Lots of spackle. The key to this process is to use thin coats, let it dry, sand and repeat. It can take days. I use drywall compound instead of the weak spackle stuff you get in the painting aisle. Although that spackle is perfect for patching nail holes and small issues. But, I was dealing with some bigger problems here.

For my oddly shaped holes near the drainage pipe (that I will not be removing since I have no room to put it anywhere else), I used the drywall repair mesh things that you can get from the paint section of Home Depot. It actually worked really well. It is basically a sticky mesh that you attach to the drywall, and then use compound over top.

I also switched out the outlet near the sink with a GFI outlet (which should have been there in the first place). Our house inspector informed us that having a non-GFI outlet next to a sink is not up to code. Funny story, though: when I removed the wall plate, the entire outlet crumbled apart. (I, of course had the power off to the switch). What I realized had happened is that the previous owners had installed new electrical boxes too far out so that they were around 1/4 inch above the drywall. Instead of fixing their mistake and moving them back, they installed the outlet, then tried to move it back by taking a hammer to it. Pro-tip, don't do this. If you make a mistake, correct it. As it was, I had to move the electrical box back about 1/2", which took more time and energy than I would like to admit. I had to get J down to drive the nails into the wood.

As you can see from the next few pictures, the spackling process was ugly. It eventually reached the point where the wall felt pretty smooth to me.

So, I gave it a final sanding with a very fine sanding sponge, and then gave the wall a good wipe down to remove dust with a damp sponge. This step is pretty important, especially if you have done a lot of work to your walls. Remove the dust before painting.

Normally, painting is the last step, but I wanted to seal in the drywall compound, which is fairly easy to dent without paint on top of it. Paint will seal in the spackling you have done and protect the walls. I primed with Kilz no VOC primer. I do not know what color the walls will be, so I wanted to get the walls back to white. The ceiling also needed some paint, so I took care of that as well.

I also switched out the light switch as well. It was a dimmer switch, but we never used it that way, so I switched it out with a rocker switch, which looks much nicer. I also started to take out some of the carpet. I needed to determine if our cement was level. The answer was a resounding no. (Of course not). So, I will be back with a post on leveling cement. I will need to pull back more of that carpet as well. The tile will come out from the closet area by about 8 in - 1 foot. But, I didn't want to try and make perfect cuts in the carpet just to see if the floor was level. This means that there will be a leveling step before we put down the tile. Like I said, this post is about patience.

All-in-all, I am pretty happy with the way the drywall looks. Prep work takes a long time, and I was prepared for that. So, the next post will be on floor prep. Then, we will get to tiling. J did come with me to the Tile Shop yesterday in order to make a final decision. We also brought some carpet with us. I eventually want to switch out this carpet, but I wanted to ensure the carpet would look okay next to the tile until we reach that point.

Our final decision.... (drum roll please)....

The Ivory Travertine! We both really liked it more than any of the ceramics. They were out of stock with the rectangles, so we are actually going with 12 x 12 squares. But we loved the texture, and we justified the price since we were ordering so little of it (also they were having a Columbus Day sale).

So, the wheels are now in motion. I should point out that I am pretty nervous at this point. Everything is cleared out, and there is really no turning back. I am nervous about messing something up and the result coming out poorly. I guess this is true in all DIY projects, but the stakes feel a bit high here. I guess I will have to work on relaxing and taking it a step at a time. And working on being patient. Rome wasn't built in a day.

There is a lot more I could say on patience. How God is teaching me this lesson in almost every area of my life. And how when you pray for patience, it often means waiting... But, often, it is okay. There is a time for everything. And, just like drywall repair, patience can lead to beautiful results. :)


  1. Well said! I can't wait to see the final results!

  2. My name is Katy and I'm the social media coordinator for KILZ brand products. We are happy to hear that our product worked great to cover your basement walls. We would LOVE for you to share your experience by writing a review. Select a product you used, rate and write a brief description and hit submit - it's that simple! We appreciate the feedback! Thanks!

    Link to review page: